Scuderia Toro Rosso sit seventh in the Constructors’ championship after the first four rounds of the 2014 Formula 1 season on eight points, with Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat equal on four points. Vergne’s eighth place in Australia is the best result of the season so far for the team, while teenager Kvyat has scored points on three occasions and finished eleventh in the other round.
Vergne will want to return to points-scoring form in Spain after retiring in both Malaysia and Bahrain and finishing twelfth in China.
“This race marks the start of the European season and it’s very important from one point of view – no more jet lag and a lot less flying,” said Vergne. “It’s also a circuit that all the drivers know very well, having raced there many times in the junior categories and so usually the gaps between the teams are a bit smaller than at other tracks. I like it and have good memories from winning races there in the past.
“It’s the sort of track where the global picture of the car makes the difference, in terms of its balance and aero package, as it’s not particularly demanding on the brakes or engine. I like the city of Barcelona, it’s got a good vibe to it and, on top of that, it’s not so far from France, so quite a few fans make the trip for this first race in Europe.”
Daniil Kvyat has been mightily impressive so far in his rookie year, and the Circuit de Catalunya will be the first track he’s raced on before in his career having not raced on the previous four in 2014 to date.
“Like all the drivers, I have spent a lot of time at this circuit, racing and testing,” said Kvyat. “I’ve had some good results there, I particularly remember a Eurocup race in 2011, when I started from twentieth and finished third. There were also some painful memories, when I lost the Eurocup there one year later, but overall, I have learned many valuable lessons at the Catalunya circuit.
“I’m looking forward to being back in Europe and having some shorter flights. It will all feel more familiar to me. Here at this track, you need to find the right compromise between the high speed and slow sections, so finding the right balance in the set-up is the key to a quick lap. I have no idea how the track will suit the STR9, except that so far this year, we have been okay in the high speed corners. We won’t know until Friday.”
Spain will also see the introduction of the first group of upgrades the STR9 will see over the next few races, with big upgrades planned for Monaco, Canada and Austria that follow. Technical director James Key admitted it would not be until the Austrian Grand Prix in June before the complete upgrades will be on the car.
“We have got four races now of pretty heavy developments coming,” said Key to Autosport. “We will naturally have aero bits for Barcelona, but then we will have more steps for Monaco, more for Canada and more for Austria. So we have an intense run of four races coming up where quite big changes will come onto the car.
“The big package is spread over those races because there is a lot of mechanical stuff in there. It could be that we relatively aren’t quite so strong there, but then we would expect to claw it all back and make some progress after that.”